are men evil?

as in so many things, we can learn a lot from our good friends the chimps..

a few years ago there was an excellent book called Demonic Males by Richard Wrangham & Dale Peterson (amzn) it looked at the social lives of the great apes and it argued that patriarchy breeds violence.

we can ignore infanticidal gorillas and orangutan rapists because these animals live in very different social settings to us. but the social, sexual (and ‘political’) lives of the chimpanzees are very revealing..

there are two distinct species of chimpanzee; your common or garden chimp (pan troglodytes ) and the pygmy chimpanzee or bonobo (pan paniscus)

both “flavours” of chimps live in large social groups of 20-80 individuals and display an almost maciavellian intelligence in their social interactions. but…
vanilla chimp society is patriarchal.. there are alpha males and continually shifting alliances and power struggles, there is constant posturing and violence and even murder almost all but not exclusively generated by the bigger stronger males.

by contrast the brilliant bonobos are matriarchal.. their society is very peaceful. bonobo mortality rates are much lower than chimps.. & they have much lower average levels of stress hormones. they fill their time with gleeful sexual exhuberence. (they are the only other species that appear to have sex for the fun of it & fair amount of gayness and lesbian fun thrown in for good measure)

i would ask you to draw your own conclusions.. but sadly when the book came out it generated a firestorm of feminist outrage.. many people leaping to the conclusion that this ‘prove’ that our violent, partriarchal society was ’caused’ by biology (and therefore inevitable & unchangeable) there are so many reasons why this far from true. so think of it more as a parable than a parallel.

About caspar

Caspar is just one monkey among billions. Battering his keyboard without expectations even of peanuts, let alone of aping the Immortal Bard. By day he is an infantologist at Birkbeck Babylab, by night he runs BabyLaughter.net
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